True, McCoy had problems while at the helm of the company, including a 35-percent drop in its stock price this year. But McCoy also took innovative steps to try and right the company after taking it over in 2012, including selling off a large portion of its North American operations to a private equity firm.
Although people tend to think the "gig economy" started with Uber and Airbnb, in truth Avon has been doing it for decades with its part-time, majority female sales force. Uber has said it wants more women drivers, and McCoy likely will be able to tap into that workforce better than most.
McCoy was likely also hurt by a dangerous trend that hinders many top women executives. Studies show that women are more likely than men to be tapped to turn around companies and are frequently shown the door when they don't quickly succeed.
One doesn't have to look far to find other examples.
The day before Avon announced McCoy's departure, Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive at Mondelez International, most famous for being the maker of Oreo cookies, announced her retirement after her own battles with investors, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo left after a bumpy five years in her post after she was unable to fix the company's declining fortunes.
If one has any doubts about the unconscious bias that women leading companies face, you can look no further than the headline of the CNN Money story announcing McCoy's departure — "Ding dong! Avon's CEO is leaving." Not exactly subtle.
Whoever leads Uber, it will be a challenge. The truth is, a woman could do it, but picking her as some kind of window-dressing exercise only hurts us all in the long run by using them as props to masquerade a reluctance to address deep internal issues. All of the leadership at Uber was complicit in what had been happening at the company for years, and if they didn't know what was going on, that's a different kind of failure that should also be recognized and admonished.
No woman created this problem, but qualified women should certainly be among those considered to try and fix it.
Tracy Chadwell has worked in finance for 15 years and is the founder of 1843 Capital, a venture-capital firm that seeks to fund women-owned tech companies. She was partner of a growth-capital fund, Baker Capital, which had more than $1 billion under management. As a frequent speaker and start-up competition judge, Tracy has developed a broad network in the female founder community. She speaks conversational Japanese and restaurant French. Follow her on Twitter @TChadwell.
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